W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > August 2007

Re: RDF's curious literals

From: Garret Wilson <garret@globalmentor.com>
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2007 13:38:56 -0700
Message-ID: <46B240E0.30607@globalmentor.com>
To: Jeremy Carroll <jjc@hpl.hp.com>
CC: Story Henry <henry.story@bblfish.net>, Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>, Lee Feigenbaum <lee@thefigtrees.net>, Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, Semantic Web <semantic-web@w3.org>

Jeremy Carroll wrote:
> At some level this thread is rather futile.

At some level you're right. ;)

It's probably appropriate to wind down the discussion now, so I'm bowing 
out. I've pretty much made my points, although I have one last rather 
clever point I haven't made---but it would nevertheless probably be 
redundant. Just remember that this discussion was less of a proposal for 
RDF 2.0 (I wasn't ready to do that yet) than an attempt to establish 
that literals are superfluous in the RDF abstract syntax---whether or we 
want to change that in future RDF versions. Some people got my point; 
others didn't. Out of the ones that did get it, a large number of them 
agreed---although a large number of those that agreed with my point 
thought that making the point was futile. :)

Before I stop participating in this thread, let me say one thing: It 
would be possible for an RDF 1.5 to throw out the concept of a literal 
and create a datatype+lexical form->URI mapping. RDF 1.5 abstract syntax 
would identify all literals by URIs, and use the rdf:type property 
rather than rdfs:Datatype to identify the types of these resources. This 
move could be backwards compatible: an RDF 1.5 processor would simply 
turn existing serializations using "10"^^xsd:integer into a resource 
with the URI some form of <xsd:integer:10> with an rdf:type of 
xsd:Integer. RDF 1.5 processors would therefore work with RDF 1.x 
serializations with no problem. Existing SPARQL queries would work just 
fine. It's just that new serializations wouldn't use all the ^^ and 
rdf:datatatype="" stuff, and new models (and APIs) wouldn't even think 
of literals as a separate type of resource. Literal-related APIs would 
be deprecated, but would still function (they would just get converted 
to URI and rdf:type queries in the background).

But you're right; it's never going to happen.

Thanks for the discussion, everyone.

Best,

Garret
Received on Thursday, 2 August 2007 20:39:04 GMT

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